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Lightning Safety Tips

Lightning Safety Tips

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Ed Yeates Reporting July is traditionally Utah's thunderstorm season, so the National Weather Service is sending out its yearly warning and reminder that lightning remains Utah's number-one weather-related killer.

An obvious precaution when out in a lightning storm is not to stand under a tree, but what about other cautions we're not quite as familiar with?

Year after year, stories linger. Lightning is seldom forgiving. The advice, as always, from both victims and the National Weather Service, is don't play the game thinking the odds are in your favor.

Brandon Smith, an incident meteorologist at the National Weather Service, says, "The safest place really is inside. A lot of people believe if you crouch down and get out from under a tree, that's safer than going indoors. If you have the choice to go indoors, that should be your first choice."

If a house is not around, get in your car. If there is no car, then crouch as low as you can but only as a last choice. Also, remember the "Anvil Effect:" "...that a thunderstorm does not have to be right over you to get hit by lightning," Smith explains.

As the storm forms, clouds stretch out like the top of an anvil. Though you're 10 miles away watching the big spectacle, lightning is sometimes more dangerous than those in the heart of the storm, bolts out of the edge of the anvil.

"If you can hear thunder," Smith says, "you can be struck by lightning." The rule of thumb is if you count less than 30 seconds from the time you see lightning then hear the thunder, it's time to go indoors.

Another precaution is to stay away from metal. Lightning traveling along a metal fence killed several cows.

Also, stay away from water, both outdoors and indoors. Though it may sound bizarre, don't take a shower during a thunderstorm. "It can travel through the water coming out of the shower head and you can get zapped," Smith says.

For more tips on lightning safety, visit the link at the right of your screen.

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